US 7205934 B2
A transmit-receive module has a battery energy store with associated circuitry for generating power (RF power) over periods ranging, as desired, from periods as short as small fractions of one second to continuous emissions over prolonged periods. The arrangement bears a definite cost advantage over known arrangements and retains utility for various applications, radar and space-based applications for example.
1. An RF transmit-receive module for energising an antenna, the module comprising:
battery-energy storing means for providing a supply of energy to the module over a predetermined duration of time; and
circuitry associated with the battery-energy storing means, the circuitry including:
generating means for generating RF power in dependence upon the supply of energy from said battery-energy storing means; and
transmitting means for transmitting the generated RF power to the antenna so that the antenna is energised by operation of the module.
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14. A radar communications system comprising one or more modules as claimed in
15. A spacecraft incorporating one or more modules as claimed in
16. A satellite incorporating one or more modules as claimed in
17. A combination of modules as claimed in
18. A method of operating an RF transmit-receive module for energising an antenna, the method comprising:
storing energy in a battery-energy store of the module;
providing a supply of the stored energy to the module over a predetermined duration of time;
generating RF power in the module in dependence upon the supply of energy from said battery-energy store; and
transmitting the generated RF power to the antenna so that the antenna is energised by operation of the module.
This application is the US national phase of international application PCT/GB02/02287 filed 15 May 2002, which designated the US. PCT/GB02/02287 claims priority to GB Application No. 0112454.4, filed 23 May 2001. The entire contents of these applications are incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention relates to a module and more particularly, but not exclusively, concerns a transmit-receive module (TRM) for use in radar communication for example.
The use of transmit-receive modules (TRMS) has become a popular method of exciting the antennas associated with phased array radar instruments. The use of such modules enables RF power to be developed at a number of sites across the antenna. Typically this is a large number. The peak RF power required to provide the required level of radar instrument functionality can then be generated in small portions in each of the TRMs and united into a single pulse of RF power in the region of air/space in front of the antenna.
The provision of such RF power creates demands for energy within the TRM. This energy is conventionally acquired from short-term energy stores, typically from a bank of capacitors. However, the finite amount of energy that can be stored in such capacitors coupled with the rapid rate at which such energy is discharged of energy from them during the period when the TRM is required to produce a pulse of RF energy, imposes a significant constraint on the duration of pulse that can be generated by the TRM. The typical duration of such pulses is between microseconds and hundreds of microseconds.
The need for such capacitors introduces considerable complexity into TRM design for radars in which the transmitter is required to transmit continuously for periods longer than hundreds of microseconds. In particular, in cases where the radar is required to provide continuous rather than pulsed illumination of a region of interest, a different means of operating TRMs has to be used.
During pulsed operation, the mean current needed to replenish such capacitors after each pulse of RF power generation, leads to a need for significant DC power conditioning circuits within each TRM, and the need for wire conductors of appreciable cross-sectional area to convey electrical power to the power conditioning elements in each TRM. The power conditioning circuits in each TRM take electrical power from the external source, for instance—from the main electrical power bus that is made available to electrical equipments in most spacecraft/satellites, and converts that available power into the specific supply voltages that may be needed by individual electrical circuits within the TRM.
The present invention aims to overcome or at least substantially reduce some of the above-mentioned drawbacks.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a transmit-receive module (TRM) which generates power (RF power) over periods ranging as desired from periods as short as small fractions of one second to continuous emissions over very prolonged periods. This is an improvement over the capability of known TRM designs which are able only to operate over periods that are only small fractions of one second.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a transmit-receive module (TRM) which enables a cheap approach to the provision of TRM functionality for space-based applications where financial budgets are often constrained.
In broad terms, the present invention resides in the concept of using batteries as the energy storage medium in the TRM instead of capacitors so as to enable operation of the TRM at any pulse length up to and including continuous emissions.
Therefore, according to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a transmit-receive module for energising an antenna, the module comprising: battery-energy storing means for providing a supply of energy to the module over a predetermined duration of time; and circuitry associated with the battery-energy storing means, the circuitry including (1) generating means for generating power in dependence upon the supply of energy from said battery-energy storing means and (2) transmitting means for transmitting the generated power to the antenna so that the antenna is energised by operation of the module.
Advantageously, the use of the TRM of the present invention obviates the need for the power conditioning circuits that are usually present in known TRM designs. Conveniently, in the invention, the cross-sectional area of the wires needed to convey electrical power to the module is reduced.
Advantageously, although power can be supplied to the module of the invention during operation, supply during operation is not essential. The power can typically be supplied to the module for a period of time before operation of the module commences so that all the energy needed for that period of operation is present when operation commences.
Conveniently, the selection of batteries as the energy storage medium in the TRM whose supply voltage is matched to that required by the principal energy sinks in the TRM, obviates the need for the more complex power conditioning circuitry associated with operation of a known TRM design from a generic power supply rail.
Further, the use of batteries as the energy storage medium in the present invention enables recharging of the overall required energy resource to take place during periods when the module is not being used as well as during its operation. Conveniently, the mean current drawn by the TRM of the invention is no greater than that drawn by conventional TRM designs that use capacitors for energy storage, and is often significantly smaller. Therefore, the cross section of conductors conveying power to the new kind of TRM of the proposed invention is smaller and the associated mass is smaller.
Preferably, the batteries are lithium ion devices of the kind from Sony/AEA Technology designated as types 18650.
Preferably, the condition of the batteries is monitored by a battery charge controller so that the batteries can be automatically recharged when there is an indication that the batteries require recharging/renewal.
In accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the invention which will be described hereinafter in detail, the circuitry of the module comprises a combination of amplifiers and switches enabling RF power to be output by the module in response to the supply of energy from the batteries.
According to another aspect of the invention there is provided a method of operating a transmit-receive module for energising an antenna, the method comprising: storing energy in a battery-energy store of the module; providing a supply of the stored energy to the module over a predetermined duration of time; generating power in the module in dependence upon the supply of energy from said battery-energy store; and transmitting the generated power to the antenna so that the antenna is energised by operation of the module.
It is to be appreciated that the module of the invention has a simplified design and can be implemented at reasonable cost and it has utility for various applications, for example for space-based applications.
The above and further features of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims and will be described hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings.
Referring next to
Fundamentally, therefore, the battery pack stores energy that will be used by the battery; electrical power is routed to the battery to restore energy consumed during operation. While
Note also that the “active electronic elements” conveniently provide the fundamental RF functionality of the TR module. These elements, by taking electrical power from the battery, and under the control of external signals, amplify incoming signals from the connection called RF Input and deliver the amplified version to the connection called RF output. Under further instruction from the port labelled “Control signals”, these elements also are conveniently enabled to amplify incoming (low power echo) signals from the connection called RF Output and deliver amplified versions to the connection called RF Input.
Note also, as shown in the embodiment of
Referring now to
While the selection of battery in the module of the invention is not restricted to any particular battery type or energy storage cell type from particular manufacturers, the module of the invention could be suitably realised using lithium ion devices from Sony/AFA Technology designated as type 18650.
A battery recharging facility can readily be provided and the circuitry of
Advantageously, the power generated by the module 10 in operation is in the form of pulsed power emission or continuous power emission. By varying the circuitry parameters, the module of the invention can operate at any pulse length up to and including continuous emission.
Further, the use of batteries in the module of the invention permits energy to be supplied to the circuitry by the batteries in a controlled way before or during the time of operation of the module.
It is to be noted that a number of modules 10 can be used together so as to combine together the respective powers generated by each of the modules, thereby providing a single intensified pulsed emission of power for transmission to an antenna for example.
Thus, in operation of the module(s) of the invention, the following steps are carried out:
Having thus described the present invention by reference to a preferred embodiment, it is to be appreciated that the embodiment is in all respect exemplary and that modifications and variations are possible without departure from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, different types of battery or energy storage cell could be used and any number of batteries/cells could be used to realise the technical effect of the invention. Furthermore, whilst in the described embodiment the power is supplied to the module as DC electrical power, the power could alternatively be supplied as AC electrical power or as optical energy in the form of light which could subsequently be converted into electrical power through photovoltaic devices such as solar cells.
The invention finds utility for various applications, for example radar and space-based applications.